Every so often, I start a new personal campaign at work. It's not intentional and it usually has to do with the type of work I am proud (or not) to put my name on. It all starts with me noticing something that seems just a little off or counter-intuitive, then I start asking questions (to myself and anyone else that will actually make eye contact with me when this is going on), then I develop a position and then I evangelize it. Recently, I realized that this is a cycle for me and I can think back on different stages of my career and what my campaign was at that time. I believe that companies derive value from people that do this (passion, trying things differently, critical thinking, etcetera) but I will admit that it has gotten me into trouble a time or two. Heck, Bill Gates does this (not that I could even stand in the shadow if his greatness, but...). Well anyway, now I have a blog and I have gotten to the evangelism stage of my new campaign so watch out ; )I'm sure there are some armchair psychologists out there that will have a field day with this one.
Let me give you an example of one of my campaigns. When I started in the Staffing industry, I was placing accounting temps on jobs.Very often, the client actually had a full-time position to fill. The temp was intended to fill in the gap while our firm or someone else filled the job on a full-time basis. Frequently, the role was stated as officially "temp to perm" meaning that if the client liked the temp they would hire them into the full-time role. Oftentimes this would happen even if the role was not designated as "temp to perm"...the client just loved the temp and wanted to keep them. Oh, also important to add that we were paid a commission and the pay-out on a full-time hire was more than on temp billings (cha-ching!). So knowing that the money was in the permanent hire and that the clients could end up hiring my temps (um, yeah and being focused on customer sat and doing the right thing for everyone involved...hello!), I started to wonder why the people placing the temps didn't work extremely hard to ensure that they were sending the "just right" person. It ended up being a campaign for me...I talked about it with my peers and managers and worked extra hours to put it into action and it paid off. It was a theme that I applied to doing my job.
Last year, my theme was (and still is to a certain extent), about doing the RIGHT work. Often, in the recruiting industry, we confuse activity with strategy (please don't ask me what my blogging strategy is...not one more time...it's not a strategy after all). It's easy to get wrapped up in the hype around the "new thing" (blogging anyone?), without knowing why you are doing it...specifically, what business problem we are trying to solve (got this figured out with the blogging thing though, thanks). The right work is about doing the right thing for the business and for candidates and it involves doing the work the right way (efficiently, cost effectively, involving the right people). I've been in situations where I had to push back (I know...me! Can you believe it?) because I felt like the work that I was being asked to do wasn't the right work or I wasn't the right person to be doing it. For example, one thing that central sourcing teams (like mine) get asked to do is help with "hard-to-fill" positions. And as much as I am excited by the challenge of the hunt for the right candidate, some of these positions are "hard-to-fill" for reasons that have nothing to do with the charter of my immediate work group (candidate outreach). Sometimes positions are hard to fill because the hiring manager has unrealistic expectations. Sometimes it's because they hiring group is not responsive. Sometimes it's because the role has not been adequately scoped. So these are the types of things I feel good about pushing back on because they don't meet the criteria for working on the right things. And the person on the receiving end of the push back maybe not liking it as much as I do.
I feel a new campaign brewing...it's been happening for a while and it has to do with relationships and trust. And really it has a lot to do with how we (recruiters, companies, etc.) can do better. It's really gelled for me while I have been thinking about how we can effectively get our employees that have MBAs to refer people they know from school or previous work (because those people will likely also have MBAs and/or have strong skills). Where I think many corporations and referral programs fall short is actually building trust with the people that they want to get the referrals from. It's all take and no give because "we don't provide feedback" or "we get too many resumes to follow up with everyone individually". It's one thing if you are talking about your career site, but it's something else entirely if you are reaching out to these people and actually asking for referrals. You are telling them that you want them to send you high quality people that they have relationships with. As if those high quality people don't want expect to be followed-up with? As if the referring employee is going to damage their relationship with the candidate by saying "yes, please go to the trouble of sending me your resume and in return I can guarantee you that nothing specifically will happen with it"? Sheesh, it alienates both the referrer and the candidate...we can do better! I think it's time to stop expecting employees to refer people believing that no follow-up is owed. Time to stop telling people to submit their trusted friends and associates through a web site. This is my new campaign and I am going to share it with whomever will listen. And by the way, if a Microsoft employee sends me a referral for marketing or finance (caveat: person must have a marketing or finance background...that is my space), I will follow up.
Passion or side effect of thinking too much? You decide.
Taking a big deep breath now.